Footpad made every yard of the running to come home an impressive winner of the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Paul Townend was positive from flag-fall aboard the 4-9 favourite and only main market rival Petit Mouchoir opted to go with him, as he set a strong pace up front in the two-mile-one-furlong Grade One contest.
Petit Mouchoir, who was returning from 108 days off the track, was noticeably on his toes before the race and clattered the second fence before eventually settling on Footpad's heels as the other three runners toiled some way behind.
With two to jump, Townend turned up the pace on Footpad and while he clipped the final obstacle, the Willie Mullins-trained victor never looked in danger as Petit Mouchoir ploughed on for second, with Any Second Now third.
Paddy Power make Footpad the 10-11 favourite for the Arkle Trophy at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
Winning jockey Paul Townend could not have been more impressed.
"He jumps like a stag, you’d swear he’s jumping fences all his life. It was a great thrill riding him, he was deadly!," he told the HRI.
"I thought it was a really good performance and he did it the hard way, making all his own running."
Also speaking to the HRI, Davy Russell, rider of the runner-up, Petit Mouchoir, said:
"We were a bit disappointed because at the start of the season we thought we had the best but it seems there’s one better than us. He made two early mistakes and that put manners on him."
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